Please select your home edition
Edition
InSunSport - International - RG

Drains V Snags part 1- Intertidal Arteries - Roads and Streets

by Lee Brake on 4 Feb 2013
Lee Brake with a nice little flathead. Barra are far from the only fish that feeds around drains. - Drains V Snags Lee Brake
We've all faced this conundrum. It's the epic mental battle fought in the minds of many lure fishos when they are heading up a mangrove estuary. On one shoulder sits the little drain demon and on the other the snaggy seraph, but what to choose – drain or snag?

Let's have a bit of a closer look at both of these two structure types and see if I can't paint you a bit of a picture of when, where and why you should work drains or snags. Let's kick things off with a look at drains this week and next week we'll tackle snags.

Intertidal Arteries

If rivers are the highways of the aquatic world, creeks are the major roads, and drains and gullies are the city streets that feed into these watery means of piscatorial transportation. When the tide is at its highest point, bait and smaller predatory fish push right up into the relative safety of the mangrove systems that line our saltwater estuaries.

There they'll feed and shelter amongst the mangrove roots until the tide begins to drop. Then, the water will siphon off the inundated banks, draining into the drains and gullies before pouring out into the flow of the main creek or river. While all this is going on, drains are the place to fish!



Predatory fish love drains. When that dirty intertidal water is pouring out of a drain it brings with it everything from nervous poddy mullet and showering jelly pawns to mangrove crabs and mudskippers. It's amazing what'll get flushed out of a drain after heavy rains or king tides and fish like barra, salmon, flathead, jacks and cod will likely be waiting, ready and forming a gauntlet of boofing, swiping, flashing mayhem for any unlucky intertidal traveller.

The biggest trick with drains is knowing when to fish them. Obviously the run-out tide is the go, but don't be mistaken into thinking drains produce all through the out-going tide. Too early in the run out and bait can escape from the inundated banks simply by swimming out of cover anywhere along the bank and too late in the tide, you'll find that the mangrove roots are high and dry and any water flowing from the drains will be running out of the mud, not from over it.

The key is to target drains just as mud starts to show along the edges of the mangroves around the mouth of the creek. Bait will wait till the very last minute before making that mad dash off the intertidal zone and with the mud drying out they'll be forced into the deeper puddles and dips that make up the ever-shrinking catchments of the drains. From there, they'll start to run the gauntlet.



As a point to note though, not all drains work the same and at the same times of the tides. The small snaking drains that empty off the flats of shallow headlands between creeks are often only fishable for the first few hours of the outgoing tide. These areas, because there is no clear drop-off, drain gradually and while there may not yet be any mud showing, the fishable window is limited by the draft of your boat.

That doesn't mean these drains don't produce, as fish like barramundi and flathead lay in them and use them as an ambush point to gobble bait moving along the flats. Because of the clear, shallow nature of the water though, it's best to use 'long-cast' techniques so as not to spook these fish. Cast aerodynamic, generously weighted lures like Reidy's B52s, paddle-tailed soft plastic minnows, and subsurface stickbaits and work them slowly and with plenty of action so that they pass over the submerged drains.



On the other side of the coin, there are big drains that will often flow continuously. These are common in the big tidal rivers of the Top End where big wet seasons and low-lying topography create massive floodplains rich in food of all sorts, from insects to the rainbowfish that flourish on them. The issue with a lot of these big drains is that they will often overwhelm the main flow of the river (or the river will rise and overwhelm them), turning the water into a continuous outward-flowing mass of freshwater run-off. The key is to look for colour changes. A major drain that is 'working' is given away by the ballooning colour change around its mouth. In the wet season this will usually see tea-coloured freshwater meeting the sediment laden brown of the main river flow. If you can find these areas where fresh and salt meet then usually the predators won't be far away. Try soft plastic frogs and green-coloured lures that match the inhabitants of floodplains.



Tackle for drain work depends on your lure of choice. Most anglers prefer to toss around medium size shallow divers like B52's, Bombers and X-Raps and, subsequently, a medium weight baitcaster combo (100 size reel and a 6-7 foot 4-6kg rod) with a reasonably stiff tip is essential to rip and twitch these effectively. A 30lb braided line with 60lb leader will suffice. On the other hand, if you're into slow rolling lightly-weighted plastics, a seven foot spin combo with a softer tip would be a better bet.



Well, that should give you an idea when and how to work drains. Make sure you check back next week when we have a look at snag bashing!

Guy Nowell - Yellow 660Pantaenius - Fixed ValueGAC Pindar

Related Articles

Night patrol nets illegal abalone harvest
Three men leaving a Mornington Peninsula beach have allegedly been found in possession of 169 abalone Three men leaving a Mornington Peninsula beach have allegedly been found in possession of 169 abalone, of which more than one third were undersize.
Posted on 26 Sep
14m offshore fishing cat to be presented
A 14 metre, offshore-capable, game fishing catamaran design will be presented at this year’s Auckland on Water Boat Show A 14 metre, offshore-capable, game fishing catamaran design will be presented at this year’s Auckland on Water Boat Show. The boundary-pushing design is a collaboration between Kit Carlier Design and Stimson Yacht Design, who will exhibit together for the first time at the show, which runs from 29 September to 2 October, 2016.
Posted on 23 Sep
Optimal Trolling Speeds easy to achieve with Happy Troller
Even at their lowest throttle, sterndrives and outboards can rarely power a boat at an optimal trolling speed. Even at their lowest throttle, sterndrives and outboards can rarely power a boat at an optimal trolling speed. Many gamefish simply won't chase and strike at a lure that's moving too fast.
Posted on 22 Sep
Mercury - Save up to $1,250 on a cutting edge Mercury FourStroke
Australian boaters can now save up to $1,250 and enjoy the many benefits of a cutting edge Mercury FourStroke. Australian boaters - of all descriptions - can now save up to $1,250 and enjoy the many benefits of a cutting edge Mercury FourStroke.
Posted on 21 Sep
New Zealand Maritime radio channels set to change on 1 October
Before you head out on the water next summer there are some important maritime radio changes you need to know about. Before you head out on the water next summer there are some important maritime radio changes you need to know about. On 1 October 2016, New Zealand is changing some maritime VHF repeater channels, and NowCasting weather services, to make space for new international ship tracking and data services, and to make sure our VHF radio services are compatible with the rest of the world.
Posted on 20 Sep
Announcing the launch of the Simrad® GO9 XSE with radar capability
It has intuitive, multi-touch controls that smartphone and tablet users will instantly find familiar and easy to use. Packed full of features, it has intuitive, multi-touch controls that smartphone and tablet users will instantly find familiar and easy to use. Boaters can view charts, add waypoints and see key information on a large 9-inch screen.
Posted on 15 Sep
Fishers invited to free Murray ‘codference’
Freshwater fishers are being invited to Shepparton on Sunday 11 December for Victoria’s first ever Murray ‘codference’ Freshwater fishers are being invited to Shepparton on Sunday 11 December for Victoria’s first ever Murray ‘codference’ where they can learn about the health of our Murray cod fisheries, how to improve their fishing and how they can contribute to long term sustainability.
Posted on 14 Sep
New fisheries authority set to make a splash
A new legislation introduced to the Victorian Parliament to pave the way for new statutory authority to manage fisheries The Andrews Labor Government today introduced legislation to the Victorian Parliament to pave the way for a new statutory authority to manage fisheries state-wide.
Posted on 13 Sep
Honda Marine winner goes fishing with Andrew Symonds
Ben Jefferson, father of two from the Northern Territory recently won the trip of a lifetime. Ben Jefferson, father of two from the Northern Territory recently won the trip of a lifetime. Ben was lucky enough to experience some of Queensland’s best fishing spots and even knock back a few cold ones with cricket legend Andrew Symonds.
Posted on 12 Sep
New recreational boat upper deck capacity standards
American Boat and Yacht Council, has revised its “Boat Capacity” (H-5) standard for upper decks on recreational boats. The membership organization that sets safety standards for recreational boat design and manufacturing, the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), has revised its “Boat Capacity” (H-5) standard for upper decks on recreational boats. Upper decks are often referred to as the “fly bridge” or “upper helm.”
Posted on 10 Sep